To me, this is the first question and the one most asked. I choose to go with what pays me the most as far as how much. “Pays me the most”??? Well, if you think of the food in terms of getting the most for your dollar, in terms of insurance and in terms of value nutritionally, then I choose what pays me back the most.
In order to be safe, say, from storms, you should have 2 weeks worth of food stored. In order to be safe from, say, a forced quarantine’s, you should have at least 6 weeks of food. In order, to be able to take advantage of less shopping and better sales and coupon buys, you need three months worth of food. In order to feel safe from unemployment and a prolonged food shortage, six months would be recommended. In order to be safe from a total collapse of the economy and other dangers, you must have a minimum of one years worth of food saved…the more, the better. PLUS, seeds.
So, with those goals in mind, how much of a particular item would you need? Consider that in an emergency, you would be eating for nutrients and bulk, so pick filling items that meet the recommended daily requirements. Some people go by calories, but that is not how I choose to do it. If you go to your cupboard and look in it, you might see a can of corn, a can of potatoes and a can of tune. That is one meal for up to 4 people. BUT, don’t forget that you need bread at some point during the day, more veg, and what about flavor?
I find it easiest to loosely “plan” a menu for my family. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner, plus a snack…per day, per person. However, we, as families, know that it’s easier and cheaper to make a meal for 4 people than to plan meals for 4 different people. So, I think this;”my family eats one loaf of bread a day”…then I know that it takes a pound of flour, plus a bit to make that bread. So 1 pound x 365= 365 pounds of flour (or grain). Of course there are other things that I use flour for, so I double that. The nutritional requirements for grain are not met by that, so I add others, like oats for cereal, corn meal for other breads and frying foods in. How much? Use the same equation of How Many times a week(or day) will me family eat that? Then multiply it out for the item you are trying to figure out. (2 cups of oatmeal per day x 365 days= about 350 pounds of oats). NOTE: amounts are approximate and intended as an example only!
I then move to the other items in the food groups and meals…meat, veg, fruit. Though it won’t be quite like you are used to eating, it still gives an idea for a basis of finding out how much. When planning a meal of spaghetti, plan on the meat (perhaps dried hamburg crumbles or frozen meatballs, the pasta and the sauce. If you had that once a week, then you would need 52 jars of sauce for a year, 52 pounds of hamburg (or meal sized packets of meatballs)and about 52 pounds of spaghetti. Then you know you have 52 meals of the 1095 meals you need to plan. Lets take breakfast out of that, because they are getting oatmeal, and plan on a sandwich type meal for lunch, using that bread, and you are down to needing the ingredients for roughly 320 more meals. I picked spaghetti, since it’s a one dish meal that is quick to make and filling, but it has meat, grain and veg in one place. Now, how about we knock off another 52 meals but choosing a tuna casserole that has carrots and peas in it. You will need another 52 pounds of pasta, 52 large cans of tuna, 52 cans of mixed veggies (or what ever you choose to put into the casserole) and some kind of sauce (I use cream of mushroom soup)in an amount to equal 52, since we are serving it once a week. Again, simple to make, quick,one dish and contains all the things you need. Let’s make some cornmeal bread to go with that to meet all requirements. You are now down to about 268 meals needed. Go on in this manner and (it gets easier) soon you will have all the meals for a year. Of course, you will also need seasonings, condiments and so on, but you do it the same way. If you go through about one bottle of ketchup a week normally, then plan to stock 52 bottles for the year. It’s actually a great exercise to do to see how you can eat less expensively, more varied and take advantage of sales better. If you know that you will need to have 52 bottles of ketchup (for example) in a year, then when it goes on sale for $1 a bottle, splurge and get as many as you can. It will last for years!
Now, you may think that will take a lot of space, but there are ways you can reduce the space. Learn to dehydrate many of your foods! http://www.dehydrate2store.com/ will help you get started learning how simple it is. A 10# bag of potatoes will dehydrate down to about 4 quart bags! 2 1/2#’s of veggies will only fill up a pint jar once they are dehydrated! I have been experimenting with this all summer, as my family turned up their nosed as the thought of dehydrated foods. However, when you rehydrate them, they can’t tell the difference! A weeks worth of dehydrated food (not including all the grain) can fit into a 5 gallon bucket. Storing in buckets makes it easy to move them and if you plan your meals, you can keep your buckets in storage and only bring one up per week and work out of that one little bucket for a week!
I hope that this helps you look differently at how to calculate your needs. I found food storage calculators confusing to me, as I think in terms of “meals” rather than pounds and calories. It’s up to YOU how long your food storage goal is, and it’s up to YOU what you put in it. We all have basic needs, but in an emergency, comfort foods are mentally better for you. So, store what you eat and eat what you store. You will never have a problem with foods going bad if you use your pantry like a mini store and “shop” from it for every meal.